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In the age of electronics, getting the right amount of exercise can be challenging. For both adults and children, it may be a good idea to schedule time for exercise. When it comes to helping your kids stay in shape, what are the best ways to get them up and moving? And is there such a thing as too much movement?
Add up screen time
Orthopedic surgeon Krista Migliore, DO, notes that electronic devices can sometimes become a barrier to children getting enough exercise. “Add up how much your child spends on their electronic devices, and try to limit it to one or two hours per day. It’s easy to let it exceed even six hours per day.”
Dr. Migliore also advises making plans and setting aside time for exercise. “Especially when kids get a little older and don’t have recess anymore, they may need some scheduled exercise.” This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take your child to the gym or to a workout class, though these can be good opportunities to exercise together. Rather, assign kids outdoor chores like mowing the lawn, working in the garden, or planning a family walk together in the evenings.
“There are obvious health benefits,” says Dr. Migliore, “but planned outings can also create better closeness with family members. Try to find things to do that will bring your family closer together rather than being stuck on the iPad.”
Take planned breaks
Kids who are involved in sports often don’t have as much of a challenge getting enough exercise. However, some of these family activities and outings can still be helpful to incorporate during the off-season from sports. And, Dr. Migliore notes, there should be an off-season from organized athletics.
“We’re in an age where many kids are in year-round youth athletics. But kids need a chance for their bodies to recover,” Dr. Migliore says. “They should have, at the very least, one day off per week. Their bodies need recovery time for their muscles, soft tissue, and bones.”
Having an off-season from organized team sports is a big way to help prevent injuries in children. “Besides proper conditioning and stretching, it is important to limit the number of organized sports they play,” Dr. Migliore says. “Especially in young girls, a low body weight percentage can really delay development and lead to lifelong problems. Everybody needs a break.”